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വായന

09 May, 2008

PUCL reports detention of activist in Chhattisgarh and alleges vilification by media

The following is a communication from Rajendra K Sail, President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh, about the illegal detention of State PUCL executive committee member T.G. Ajay:

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Chhattisgarh PUCL!

This is specially written for three reasons:

The State Police and a section of the media in Chhattisgarh are deliberately indulging in "vilification" campaign and spreading "falsehoods" against Ajay T G (Member, State Executive Committee, Chhattisgarh PUCL). Remember, they had done the same immediately after the illegal detention of Dr. Binayak Sen, General Secretary, Chhattisgarh PUCL.

The Police briefings in the Police Control Room every evening during that particular period carried out a systematic campaign spreading falsehoods about Dr. Ilina Sen, Member, SEC, CG-PUCL (and wife of Dr. Binayak Sen), to the extent of providing insinuations that Dr. Ilina Sen herself was "neck-deep involved with the Naxalites" and that "police had enough evidence to arrest her", but they were "not doing so because they cared about the family".

When Dr. Ilina Sen filed an application for anticipatory bail in the court of the District Judge, Raipur, the State filed an affidavit saying they had no case whatsoever against Dr. Ilina Sen and did not want her in any matter. Thus, the application for anticipatory bail was not taken up.

A similar pattern is now being followed by the Police with a section of the media obliging them without any concern for the professional ethics of journalism. So much so that the "version" and "denials" issued by the PUCL are not published in a section of the media.

The media in Chhattisgarh (especially the capital city of Raipur) has taken a position that Ajay T G is a "fake media person" and that he has no credentials whatsoever as a "journalist" or "film-maker". This is not the first time that a section of the Media has taken such a position with regard to some of the journalists/media persons who do not toe the official/establishment line. Cases of police harassment of "media persons" is not highlighted or defended by the "mainstream media"(?), if I may be permitted to use this term for limited use of this letter!!

I strongly believe that a time has come when we must counter the "vilification" campaign and spreading of "falsehoods" both by the police and a section of the press. The PUCL is being "branded" and the BJP Government is, to a great extent, succeeding in managing media to serve their draconian designs (fascist agenda).

Well, the real story is about how the Police manages the media!

Let me give you a concrete example!

On 24th May, 2007, I was arrested by the Chhattisgarh Police in the evening when I was returning from a day-long dharna protesting against the illegal detention of Dr. Binayak Sen. The police conveniently used a warrant issued by the MP High Court at Jabalpur in a two-year old case of Supreme Court ordering seven days’ simple imprisonment in the Contempt of Court Case (related to my comments on the MP High Court judgment in the Shaheed Niyogi Murder Case, when it had acquitted all the accused in June 1998). Even the warrant was dated February 2007, but the Chhattisgarh police found it politically beneficial to serve the same on me almost three months later, while it was all this while lying on the table of the Superintendent of Police, Raipur.

When I was being taken from Raipur to Jabalpur (some 300 kms away) by road in the night of 24th May, 2007, and the police officials escorting me had asked me to go to sleep in the back seat of a luxury car in which I was being taken to Jabalpur, I heard a very interesting conversation being made on phone!

One of the police officials was talking to some media person on his mobile: Kya Heading Laga Rahe ho? Aare Sayal Saheb ke liye kya heading laga rahe ho? (What is the heading you are using? Oh! for Mr. Sail what heading are you selecting?)

He called about half-a-dozen newspapers around 10:00 pm, while I kept listening to this interesting conversation lying down in the back seat of the car.

The manner of authority and confidence with which this police official addressed these media persons, it was crystal clear that they were hand-in-glove with each other.

It is now a common knowledge that a section of the media only publishes the "police version" in such cases where not only the human rights and social activists are being illegally detained but also targeted to corrode their credibility.

Against the backdrop of these developments and facts, I am circulating two documents here related to Ajay T G.

1. Background information about his life and work. Please note that he has been associated with many prestigious and progressive organizations and committed to the cause of the fundamental rights of the poor and oppressed;

2. His letter to me detailing how he was being harassed by the police.

I APPEAL to all to mobilize support for Ajay T G, especially from amongst the media persons, film makers, intellectuals, politicians etc., and send protest letters demanding his immediate release. Please send your letters to:

1. H.E. Shri E S L Narsimhan, Governor, RAJ BHAWAN, RAIPUR - 492001:
Chhattisgarh : E-mail: governor.cg@nic.in

2. Shri Raman Singh, Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, SACHIVALAYA, Dau Kalyan Bhawan, Raipur - 492001: Chhattisgarh : cmcg@nic.in

3. Shri Ramvichar Netam, Home Minister-Chhattisgarh: hmin.cg@nic.in

Please mark a copy to us also for follow-up!

This comes with good wishes,

In Solidarity,

Rajendra K. Sail>

MORE ON AJAY T.G.'s CASE

Kavita Srivastava provides the following additional information about the case of Ajay T.G.

• The Timing of Ajay's Arrest
• Ajay TG 's case
• The letter that is being used against him
• The questions
• The condition of Ajay's wife and child.

Dear friends,

This is to inform you that we have enough evidence to show that Ajay T.G. is completely innocent and that has become even more evident from what the newspapers are reporting about the police case. Of course the exact story of the police will only be known when the complete file will be accessed during the bail proceedings. The FIR is not with us now. However he has been booked u/s 124 (A) IPC[1] and Sec 3, 4 ,8 (1)(2) of the Chattsigarh Jan Suraksha Adhiniyam[2][3].

Well, let me share a few details of the case and also about the state of his wife and child.

AJAY TG's case

Ajay has been booked in what is called the infamous Arms Dropping Case of Raipur that took place on January 21st 2008, in Chattisgarh where one Malti Rao was arrested, the wife of Gudsa Husendi, the spokeperson for the Maoists. According to the police Malti and Meena were arrested for trying to pass on a huge cache of illegal arms and ammunition to unknown groups. While travelling, in a car on Jan 21, they seem to have dropped eight bags loaded with 91 pistols and 26 wireless sets at Dangania area in Raipur. The ammunition and equipment were meant for unidentified groups. But the police recovered the cache before it was taken away.
Malti belonged to Sutela in Bhilai and during the search of her house they discovered a letter written by Ajay on CACL (Campaign Against Child Labour campaign of which he was a State Convenor).

They came with this letter and showed it to Ajay perhaps on Janaury 22nd itself. When the police came to their house Ajay TG called Advocates Sudha Bharadwaj and Bose Thomas. In their presence their house was searched and his computer taken away. When the police showed him the particular letter he owned it up and shared the circumstances in which he Ajay TG himself had written it. (which I will tell in the next para quoting from an article written by Nandini Sundar which was published in the DNA in 2006).

Ajay TG for whom the computer is his livelihood as being a film maker all the editing work is done on this machine, went a few times to the SP in order to get back his computer but the police told him that it would take sometime. In early February Ajay TG 's uncle died in Kerala and he met the SP as he had to go, the SP assured him that actually there was nothing serious about his case and he could comfortably go and return. According to his wife they returned in early March before women's day and life returned to normalcy, although he was not in a position to make any films as the computer was not made available as yet.

So he had come to Raipur on the 30th April in order to apply to the court to get back his computer. His aplication was filed on the 2nd of May and the hearing had been kept for the 9th of May, regarding getting back his computer. But then he was picked up on the 5th.

Why AJAY TG wrote the letter which is today the being
used against him.

I am glad that Dr. Jonthan Parry shared this information with me so I was able to understand the case, secondly, when I shared this with Rajendra Sail, he also said that he has a letter written in Ajay TG own hand as an application to the PUCL Chattisgarh about the entire incident. So this is it:

The relevant web link for Nandini Sundar's article is
http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1034080.

The most relevant part of the article reads:

"There were four of us, including an independent film-maker and a Gondi-speaking guide, who decided to investigate the impact of the Maoist election call. Apart from a couple of roadside polling agents and some BJP and Congress flags, there was nothing to suggest it was election day. As we turned off the main road in Dantewada, even the party flags disappeared. Of the three notified booths we passed, not one was open
.
By late afternoon we reached a village school. The slogans scrawled in English read: Boycott elections. Voting gets you nowhere. As we stood there photographing the empty booth, youthful Maoists surrounded us. They told us to wait till the headman gave us permission to film. He never arrived and the youths grew increasingly threatening. Finally we were told to leave our camera behind for the squad to decide.
.
We decided it was pointless reporting the incident to the police. Surprisingly, a month or so later, the filmmaker got his camera back with an offer of money in case it was spoilt and a letter of apology from a Maoist spokesperson. The delay, the letter said, was because of the difficult conditions under which the Maoists operated."

The article is dated 7th June, 2006 and appears to have been in the public domain ever since. The elections to which the article refers were the Lok Sabha ones held in 2004.

The Four questions that come to my mind are:

1. The entire incident by the police is being presented as one where there were financial transactions between him and the Maoists?

Well Nandini's article makes it clear what the so called "transaction" was about.

2. The police have charged him under sections of 3, 4 and 8 (1) and (3) of the CPSA

That is, these events pre-dated the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act, the Act came in 2005 and this incident happened in 2004, it is clear that the organisation was not a banned one under this act then, so how can he be charged for an offence that relates to an action that was not an offence at the time it was done

3. The police is also making a hue and cry that they got a handwriting expert to prove that the writing was his:

Well, this is rubbish as Ajay TG owned up the letter himself on the 22nd of January in the presence of Sudha Bharadwaj and Bose Thomas, the two advocates so why this nonsense about a handwriting expert.

2. The police is also stating that they found the letter head on which the particular letter was written on his computer.

Well, as Convenor of CACL in Durg, he had designed the letter head on his computer, after all we all design our letter heads, so what is the big deal.

I think we all know now why Ajay TG is being fixed when there is no case at all.

The timing of the arrest of AJAY TG. Why now?

I have spoken to his wife and others with whom he has worked and am even more certain that the timing of this particular arrest is to simply impose their might over all of us and PUCL in particular, Since not a single witness of the six out of 88 who have deposed in Binayak's trial withstood cross examination and the police "case" is now showing cracks, it is evident that the police is now trying to cover up its loss of face. So they first demonised Ajay TG through the tool kit episode and then arrested him and have now started the whole cycle of attacking the person and PUCL.

The timing of the arrest has a sense of de-ja-vous. Last year too, six days before the big All India Sammelan that had been planned for the 30th of May in Raipur, against the arrest of Dr. Binayak Sen, they arrested Rajendra Sail, President of Chattisgarh PUCL so they could sabotage the programme. They have planned to do the same this time too. Since various programmes demanding the unconditional release of Dr. Bianyak Sen have been planned in Dalli Rajhara (11th May), Bagrunmala (12th May), Bilaspur ( 13th ) and the finale at Raipur on the 14th , they wish to destroy the morale of the people and prevent people from participating in these activities.

Ajay's Bail situation and the condition of his wife and child.

The bail application should come up on any date now as it was filed on the 5th of May itself . The procedure will mean having a motion hearing, calling for the file and then the arguments, the the order. This would mean minimum 10-15 days. Incase the bail is rejected then the next step is the High court, since the Bilaspur High Court closes on the 9th, it will mean that the application will go in front of a vacation judge.

Ajay TG's wife Sudha and their 20-month-old son Aman need a lot of support. She still regrets as to why she had sent him to buy provisions at 11 am on that ill fateful day, and he did not return. It was only at 4.30 pm that a local policeman came and gave the sheet stating that he had been arrested under the draconian sections of CPSA.

She also feels utterly miserable that in 2004 when the incident happened, they lived with the fear that the Maoists would harm them as they thought that they were police informers and now in 2008 the police is making them Maoists associates, she is at a complete loss as to what to do. The sense of isolation is also tremendous and that needs to be responded to immediately. Since this law makes one "guilty by association", they have lost all their local friends. Nobody wants to come and meet them, she says. She is living with her mother and sister and brother.

I think we need to go immediately and reassure her that she is not alone. .

As soon as the FIR will be in our hands we will send it to all of you.


Kavita Srivastava


[1] 124 (A) of the IPC is sedition: whoever by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representation,, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite dissatisfaction towards the Government, established by the law in India, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, to which fine may be added or with fine.

[2] 8 Penalties: (1) Any person, who is a member of the unlawful organization or participates in its meeting or activities of such organization or makes contribution or receives contribution or requests for contribution for the purpose of such organization, shall be liable for imprisonment, which may be up to three years of imprisonment as well as fine.

[3] Any person, who manages any unlawful organization or assists in its management or promotes or assists in promoting a meeting of any such or any member thereof or assistss or indulges in any unlawful activities of such a organization in any manner or through any medium or device, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.

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